The Gospel of Lazarus

The Bible is a tough read! It is one of the most complex books ever written. For many reasons, good reasons, this book is not only difficult to read but also to understand. The Bible is a compilation of books written over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, by 40 different authors; all of whom are generally recognized as “inspired” of God. The Old Testament is composed of 39 such books and was compiled and authorized as the legitimate word of God by faithful Jewish scribes closely affiliated if not actually of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of the priesthood.

The New Testament has its own colorful history. Composed of some 4 books that present themselves as the end of the Old Testament literature-the Gospels, the actual New Testament seems to begin in the book of Acts and closes with the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This means the NT is either 26 books long or 22 books long and the OT not really 39 books long but 43 books long. Just trying to discern where the Old ended and the New began can be a puzzle. It is much debated and often unfriendly wrangling over who has the correct answer can occur.

It is important to understand that the Bible itself was not written to us. What does that mean? Well, the book was not written to American citizens or to Canadians, the English or the French people of our own time. It was not written to anyone now living in the 21st century. It was written by Jews primarily to Jews. Two or perhaps three books, and some have argued four books were written by Jewish Christians specifically to non Jews or “the Gentiles” of the ancient Jewish world.

So although the Bible was not written to us, it was written for us. The intention of the entire biblical work was to reveal God to the world through a chosen people and through those people to bring about their Savior who then extended that same salvation to the entire human race. Both the OT and the NT speak of this salvation to all people. It extended this salvation to the ancient world but clearly established a spiritual meaning to this life far apart from religious trappings of material forms like temples, priests and incense.  This spiritual life was and is meant for all of mankind; creating, as it were, a portal to eternal life for all people for all time.

Whatever your experience has been in studying the Bible, it has taken me over 45 years of reading, studying, cross referencing, looking up the meaning of ancient words and buying and reading of dozens of other people’s opinions on the meaning of some very difficult passages in order to satisfy my thirst for understanding the book. Today I am satisfied with what I know of the Bible. When I read I still learn something new and I relearn old lessons that continue to thrill me. Hopefully I am a better person for all my learning.

I love a good challenge. I hope you do too. Today I am going to challenge you to start to reread your Bible. Maybe I will show you some things that you have overlooked; maybe things you have never known. Maybe you will find renewal in your hope and in your joy and your pleasure in the revelation of God in his Word. The apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy and said, “Study to show yourself approved of God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, who can rightly divide the word of God.” 2 Timothy 2:15–16. Paul told the church of the Thessalonians to, “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21. With these admonitions in mind I want to present a simple Bible study and challenge you to consider what the Bible has to say about itself.

If you’re familiar with the Bible, the New Testament in particular, the first 4 books that are considered New Testament literature are the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the names traditionally given to them. It is ancient tradition that has assigned the authorship to these books. And for the most part, internal evidence, that is evidence within the Bible itself, suggests that these traditions are accurate – for the most part!

But I’ve always wondered about the authorship of the gospel of John. So many things have been written about the apostle John, one of the sons of Zebedee, as the author of the Gospel of John. But in fact, there is no internal evidence that John wrote this book. The form in the style of writing for this gospel is nothing like the other 4 letters attributed to John. The Book of Revelation attributes the authorship specifically to John in the very first chapter; that sure helps settle a lot of argument as to who wrote that book. But I can’t shake what I have read in that Gospel of John and what I have learned in reading that book. I ask the reader to be patient with me, and to follow my line of reasoning as we take a closer look at the Bible itself and what it has to say about the authorship of the gospel that we call the Gospel According to John.

At the end of the gospel account, in John 21:20–24 we read “Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.”

What is revealed in the final chapters of the Gospel of John is a testimony not only of who it was that wrote the book but also how dearly loved he must have been to the Lord Jesus; for it was he who leaned back against Jesus at the supper. The author makes it clear that he was indeed the one who was recognized as the disciple whom Jesus loved.

These few concluding remarks made by the author are hints at who it was that wrote this gospel; an account of Jesus which is in so many ways different from Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is worth taking a closer look at the gospel account to see what else we might learn about the author.

In the first 10 chapters of the Gospel of John, we learn how the Word had become flesh to dwell among us; this is Emmanuel or God with us. We see the first miracle of Jesus, water changed to wine at the wedding feast of Cana. We learn what it means to be born again in chapter 3. In chapter 4 Jesus offers living water to a woman of Samaria and he heals the son of a non-Jewish official. Jesus teaches his relationship with God saying that God is his Father. Jesus is the Son of God. In chapter 6 Jesus offers himself as the bread of life. In Chapter 7 he calls himself the living water. He forgives the sin of a woman caught in the very act of adultery. He heals the blind man in Chapter 9. He calls himself the good shepherd and claims equality with God.

From chapter 11 and onward a man named Lazarus is introduced for the first time in all the Gospels. We learn of Mary and Martha, his sisters, in the other Gospels. But we never hear the name Lazarus used as a real person. As chapter 11 begins the author records these words, “Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent to Jesus their servants to speak to him saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick.””

For the first time in all of the written Gospels we are introduced to a man by the name of Lazarus, a brother of the two women that we have previously met in the other Gospels. Now Lazarus was sick. He lay dying in a town nearby, a town called Bethany. And this Lazarus is described as the man whom Jesus loved. Now as the story proceeds, Jesus is reluctant to go and to heal his friend, this sick man named Lazarus. Until the time that the messengers were sent from Mary and Martha to Jesus until the time when Jesus arrived at Bethany, 4 days had passed, and the man Lazarus, now dead, lay entombed. In Chapter 11 we discover that many of the Jews and many of their Jewish teachers, called the Pharisees, had come out to comfort Mary and Martha. Now the women and many others were now grieving over the death of Lazarus; the one who

Jesus loved. We enter the scene as Jesus arrives at Bethany. 1 John 8-44.

8 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

We read of the resurrection of a man whom Jesus loved. What will become of this man? What stories will he tell? What role, if any, will he play in the Gospel account of Jesus’ ministry? For certain we find that like Jesus, Lazarus had just made enemies of the Jewish leaders. Let’s continue to read on.

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

Now, the scene is unusual. Obviously Mary and Martha knew Jesus well. Here we learn that Mary and Martha had a brother named Lazarus. We learn in the Gospel of John what we learn from no other Gospel that Jesus had disciples that were not named among the 12. We are introduced to Lazarus for the first time as the one whom Jesus loved. Even the Jews who came to comfort Mary and Martha, looked into the eyes of Jesus and saw him weeping. And they remarked, “See how he loved him!” That day Lazarus was raised to life. He came out of the tomb. He had died and now he was alive. Jesus had raised him from the dead. And all that were gathered, even of the hardened Pharisees had come to believe that Jesus was the son of God. Let’s read on: John 12: 1-11.

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the money bag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.”

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was now living with his sisters. They held a dinner in His honor. While Martha served, Mary took a pint of pure nard, a very expensive perfume and she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. The Bible records that the man Lazarus was among those who reclined at the table with Jesus. Meanwhile, there was a large crowd of Jews who found out that Jesus was staying there and they came to see, not only because of Jesus but because they wanted to see Lazarus who had been raised from the dead. Sadly, the chief priests of the Jews when they learned that Jesus had raised Lazarus to life made plans to kill Jesus and Lazarus as well. Why? Because it was on account of Lazarus that many of the Jews were becoming disciples of Jesus and putting their faith in Him.

Six days had passed since this dinner with Jesus had been prepared to honor him. And now the feast of the Passover was to begin. The details here in the Gospel of John and in the other Gospels indicate that Jesus had secretly prepared an upper room near the city of Jerusalem where he and his disciples would share the Passover meal together. Now the Bible only makes mention of Jesus and his 12 engaged in the Passover feast. However it was a rented upper room and his disciples were told that there they were to make ready for the Passover. They met a man with a jar of water and this was the sign they were to seek for in order to find the rented room that Jesus had previously obtained. Among other preparations there had to be the baking of the bread without yeast, the slaughter of a lamb without blemish, it had to be roasted in a particular way, drink had to be prepared, bitter herbs had to be set aside and many other traditions as recorded by Moses in the Old Testament needed to be followed.

We might ask the question, if Jesus and the twelve sat at table, who else was in the upper room to serve these men. The Passover was a family tradition. We are not told if Mary and Martha were there to serve. On multiple occasions they had Jesus in their home. And with the love that they and Lazarus had for Jesus we must ask the question who was the man with a jar of water that the disciples had found and followed to the upper room.

Among many other things that Jesus said in that upper room, he warned them that one disciple among the twelve who was going to betray him. His disciples looked at each other and were at a loss to know of which of them he spoke. But Simon Peter knew of the disciple, one who was reclining next to Jesus laying his head upon His breast. And Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and he nudged him, “Ask him which one he means.” This man who lay on Jesus is the same man who in John Chapter 21 admits to being the author of this gospel? And at Peter’s prompting, this unnamed disciple leaned back further against Jesus, and he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” It is important at this point that we make serious note that the name of Lazarus is never brought up after chapter 12. Only a reference to the other disciple, or the disciple whom Jesus loved, or the disciple who laid his upon the breast of Jesus at the supper. There is no reference to John or to James or to Andrew. It is peculiar to say the least but the name of this disciple, who was so dear and so loved by Jesus, is kept from us from that point to the close of the book.

We shall see repeatedly that an unnamed disciple continues to play a part in the trials, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For what reason the Bible keeps the disciple a mystery, we can only speculate. As the story unfolds, Judas betrayed Jesus. This is done in the garden of Gethsemane. Mark chapter 15:50–51 recorded that an unnamed man who was with the disciples was wrapped only in a sheet when the guards came for the arrest of Jesus.  The guards caught him by the sheet and he ran away naked.  It appears that when Jesus was arrested, this man was the only one of all the disciples who followed Jesus. He followed until the priest’s guards tried to arrest him as they had done Jesus. They grabbed his sheet and he fled – naked. In those days men simply did not wear sheets as clothing. How strange that this one did! Could it be that this man was wearing the sheets used at his burial. Is this the man who was raised from the dead and wearing funeral garments, the sheets, testified to all that he was the man whom Jesus had raised?

Shortly after Jesus was arrested, in chapter 18, we read, “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus and because this other disciple was known to the high priest, he went in with Jesus to the high priest’s courtyard. Peter waited outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, he spoke to the girl there and brought Peter in. It was then that Peter, also a close disciple of the Lord, denied knowing Jesus three times.

Jesus was beaten, and mocked, and a crown of thorns placed upon his head. The guards hit him and struck him on the head and spit upon him. Jesus was taken to a hill known as the “place of the skull”. And there he was nailed alive to a post, possibly a wooden cross. The tree was then positioned into the ground. His hands and feet nailed to the wood, naked to the world, beaten and bloodied beyond recognition, Jesus looked down from the cross.  And through all of this, this mysterious disciple stood by as witness.

When Jesus saw his mother there and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to the woman, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on this disciple took her into his home. John 19:25–27. Where was Peter? Where was John? Where was Andrew? All of Jesus’ apostles had fled for fear of their lives. The Bible tells us they had abandoned him. But here, an unnamed disciple, who stood by Jesus during his trial before the high priest, also stood there at the foot of the cross and watched his Savior dying. To this man and to this man alone Jesus entrusted the care of his mother; for this was that disciple whom Jesus loved.

Interestingly, even though Jesus died that day, the story continued. For….

“Early on the 1st day of the week… Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed… So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus love, and said, “…they have taken the Lord out of the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciples started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’s head. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” John 20:1-8.

What is it that the other disciple believed? How is it that the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, was so bold to stand at the foot of the cross? What unearthly

Mary meets the gardener at the tomb (Jesus is revealed).

Mary meets the gardener at the tomb (Jesus is revealed).

courage, emboldened this disciple to stand by Jesus’s side as he went through the mockery of a trial? Only a disciple who understood fully the kind of love that Jesus had for him would be able to put his life on the line. Why did Mary Magdalene not tell only Simon Peter that the tomb was empty. But when she came running, she came running to tell Simon Peter and the other disciple; the one who Jesus loved, that the body was missing?

I suppose in the world of races there are some men that are fast and then there are some men that are faster. Training, genetics, and motivation all play a part in how fast one can run. But this unknown, unnamed disciple started out for the tomb with Peter. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and he reached the tomb first, yet he was not the first to go into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there and the burial cloth. And finally, after Peter, he too went inside the tomb; he saw and believed. What did he believe? Could it be that he had experienced what now was before his eyes; the resurrection of the dead?

Some time after Jesus was raised he appeared to the disciples. He appeared again while Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, the sons of Zebedee whose names were John and James and 2 other disciples were together by the sea John 21:1–7. Simon decided that he was going to go fishing and the Scripture says that through the night they caught nothing. But early in the morning Jesus stood on the shore. The disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. And he called out to them. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some fish.” And they did and it was so. Then of all the disciples who should have recognized the man on the shore, it was the disciple whom Jesus loved who turned and said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” It was then that Simon Peter wrapped up his outer garments and jumped into the water to make his way to the beach.

In Chapter 21, Jesus was walking with his disciples down the beach and telling them how they would die for His sake. He told Peter that when he was old he would be taken where he did not want to go. Apparently, there was a type of death that frightened Peter and it was by that kind of death that Peter’s life would come to an end. Of all of the disciples whom Jesus predicted concerning their deaths, there was one man’s future he did not speak about. And Peter wanted to know how this man would die. In John 21:20-24 we are told Peter turned and seeing that disciple whom Jesus loved following them, this one who had leaned against Jesus at that last supper, the one who had asked about the betrayal, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” How will this man die for your sake?

Before we leave this short and simple Bible study on the Gospel of John, we should take a look at what modern scholars have concluded as to the internal evidence that this gospel was authored by an apostle whose name was John. Some introductions to the this Gospel suggest that there is internal evidence indicating that the author was an apostle and not simply another disciple. They note several verses. I will give these three; John 1:14; John 2:11; and John 19:35. Let me read them to you. And you decide whether this is internal evidence that an apostle wrote the Gospel according to John and if so whether there is any internal evidence that this apostle’s name was John.

John 1:14 reads this way, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, full of grace glory as of the only son from the father, and truth.” In this passage the only evidence as to the authorship of the gospel of John is that the author includes himself among those who were witnesses that the Word had become flesh and ”we have seen his glory”. In this passage there is no evidence of either apostleship or the name of the author. Only that the author was among those who had seen Jesus Christ as the Word made flesh.

As to John 2:11, let me read, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.” The passage speaks of the very first miracle recorded in the Gospels. And speaking as in the third person, the author simply says that his disciples believed in Him. There is no evidence of apostleship; only discipleship.

The third of these passages presented as evidence that an apostle wrote the Gospel of John is given in John 19:35, which reads, “He who saw it has borne witness–his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth–that you may also believe.” Again in this passage there is no evidence that the author speaking in the first person presented himself as an apostle or as John.

Many other biblical associations are made between John, Luke, Acts, Galatians, and the association the Apostle John had with Simon Peter but none of these are evidence that the author of the Gospel of John was an apostle; it is only presumption and not well-founded Bible study that would lead one to believe these associations had any bearing on John as the author of the Gospel.

There is one extra piece of evidence from the early Church Fathers that identifies the gospel here as written by the apostle John and this comes from Irenaeus, who made mention of this gospel as being written by John. Irenaeus wrote this in 202 A.D. The value of tradition among the Jews and among the early Christians was great, up to the year 70 A.D. For the next 40 to 50 years there is a silence of the Scriptures, and a complete void of any letters written back and forth between the early churches; as though indeed the church of Christ had been translated from this world into that spiritual kingdom of God. Irenaeus had only some poor tradition by which he assumed the Gospel to be written by John.

So what difference does it make who wrote the Gospel of John? The value of knowing the authorship of any epistle written by someone who was inspired of God to pen his experiences and his thoughts in such a way as to convince the reader of the reality of his own first-hand eyewitness account bears directly on the validity of that which is written. To accept the traditions of men, fraudulent writings, or the honest errors of those who attempted to understand the Scriptures more thoroughly, is insufficient for faith. Our due diligence, sensibility towards God‘s word and commitment to truth should have free rein.  This should  dictate our beliefs.

If indeed it was the risen Lazarus who penned this gospel account, much is explained in the unique style of writing and presentation of Jesus Christ as God Almighty; the word of God made flesh.  The author does not use Jesus’ parables.  He deals frankly with Jesus’ divinity.  The author notes the death of the disciple whom Jesus loved and his resurrection (no other gospel writer speaks to this – why?).   After raising this beloved disciple, all the world (of the Jews) were going to follow Jesus as Messiah. On account of this man’s resurrection, the Jews decided to kill Jesus. Jews well knew the Romans were going to destroy the city, and the temple and these greedy, covetous, and adulterous men would loose all they had in this world.  The remaining book deals with the details of Jesus’ last words.  No other Gospel completes the many prayers and the promises of Christ before his death as this one did.  Why did Peter wonder about the death of this disciple whom Jesus loved?  What kind of answer is this that Jesus gave?  “What is it to you if he remain until I come?”  

Only Lazarus who had experienced death and resurrection could stand by Jesus through all his trial, his nailing to the tree, his slow death on the cross and not fear what man could do to him.  Only one who had “been there, done that” could understand the resurrection of Jesus when all others remained clueless.  My case is made.  I think the Bible speaks much louder than man’s opinions can tell; it goes to the heart of the matter. For this Gospel stands out unique among the other Gospels; not superior to, but with an authorship filled with a confident composure of one who had died and now lived fearlessly and side by side with the Christ. Making his work in writing his experiences, his perspective, a genuinely different attraction to the human soul. If this were not enough reason to believe that the Scriptures speak the truth of the authorship, pointing to Lazarus, yielding us this unique perspective of one who had died and was raised to life again, then for truth’s sake alone we must permit our studies to rule our understanding, and our understanding to rule the hearts of men as they hear the truth.

Truth came from one who had experienced death and rose again to confirm that in Jesus Christ is the resurrection from the dead. It was Lazarus, brother to Mary and Martha, who penned this unique and deeply spiritual account of Jesus as the word of God, as God himself, and most certainly as the Resurrection from the dead. Truth is everything. The beauty of Bible study is in the joy of the revelation, that like pearls of great price these pearls are rare and often hard won.

Women behold your son.

Woman behold your son.

4 Responses to “The Gospel of Lazarus”

  1. gary

    According to the Bible, how many Old Testament prophets raised people from the dead? Answer: Two. Elijah and Elisha.
    That’s it. And they only did it three times. So the act of raising someone from the dead would have been seen as a very, very big deal. It was not like healing someone of a disease or casting out demons. Lots of people, it seems, could do those miracles. Nope, raising someone from the dead was the big kahuna of all miracles!

    In the Gospel of John chapter 11, we are told that Lazarus had been dead for four days. His body was decomposing to the point that he stunk. Lazarus death and burial were very public events. His tomb was a known location. Many Jews had come to mourn with Mary and Martha and some of them were wondering why the great miracle worker, Jesus, had not come and healed his friend Lazarus; essentially blaming Jesus for letting Lazarus die.

    Let’s step back and look at the facts asserted in this passage: Only two OT prophets had raised people from the dead, and these two prophets were considered probably the two greatest Jewish prophets of all time: Elijah and Elisha. If this story is true, the supernatural powers of Jesus were on par with the supernatural powers of the greatest Jewish prophets of all time! If this event really did occur, it should have shocked the Jewish people to their very core—a new Elijah was among them! This event must have been the most shocking event to have occurred in the lives of every living Jewish man and woman on the planet. The news of this event would have spread to every Jewish community across the globe.

    And yet…Paul, a devout and highly educated Jew, says not one word about it. Not one. Not in his epistles; not in the Book of Acts. Think about that. What would be the most powerful sign to the Jews living in Asia Minor and Greece—the very people to whom Paul was preaching and attempting to convert—to support the claim that Jesus of Nazareth himself had been raised from the dead? Answer: The very public, very well documented raising from the dead of Lazarus of Bethany by Jesus!

    But nope. No mention of this great miracle by Paul. (A review of Paul’s epistles indicates that Paul seems to have known very little if anything about the historical Jesus. Read here.)

    And there is one more very, very odd thing about the Raising-of-Lazarus-from-the-Dead Miracle: the author of the Gospel of John, the very last gospel to be written, is the only gospel author to mention this amazing miracle! The authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke say NOTHING about the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Nothing.

    This is a tall tale and nothing more!

    • Dr. Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

      There are ramifications beyond the just the re telling of the story that play a role into its popularity (or not). Imagine that the miracle done to you was the very reason the Jews decided to kill the Messiah? This may have caused Lazarus to refer to himself as the lowly ” disciple whom Jesus loved” after his resurrection and not use his own name. Too much focus on him and not enough on the Lord would have caused him great consternation. And as to Mark and Luke, neither of these were eye witnesses of the resurrection of Lazarus, they are both second hand story tellers. Only Matthew would have known the great details of his resurrection and what this meant for Christ’s life and death. And he had another agenda… to teach the Jews of the Messiah’s fulfillment of the OT. There are many other matters discussed in John that makes it clear that this writer was not part of the apostolic circle … not until the last days of the life of Jesus. He clearly saw Jesus as God in the flesh and his interest goes beyond that of Jew, showing to all humanity that Jesus was the savior.

  2. Schuyler King

    Consider many reasons for not admitting you are Lazarus.
    Saul was on a mission to eradicate anything connected with the Nazarene cult. Surely that fellow Lazarus, whom everyone knew had been resurrected from the dead, had to be eliminated.
    Consider also, if indeed, Lazarus was given the duty of protecting Mary, Mother of Christ, how many Saul’s would have desired to eliminate her and her story.
    Likewise, if the people saw John the Baptist as the new messiah, how many would as easily believe Lazarus was the actual, resurrected messiah. The apostolic age would have come crashing down, as new believers were convinced Jesus was just the messenger, and the presently living – and many who would not die – Lazarus, was the man to follow.

    • Dr. Daniel Moran, Ph.D.

      I agree. There is good cause to “lay Low” besides the knowledge that it was your resurrection that finally pushed the Pharisees to the point of murdering your best friend, lord and God.


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